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Fauci Says 'All Indications' Suggest Omicron Is Less Severe Than Delta

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said during a White House press briefing that “all indications” from recent data suggest that the Omicron variant of coronavirus is less severe than the Delta variant.

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“Analysis of both clinical and laboratory data indicate an overall significant reduction in the risk of hospitalization from Omicron compared to Delta,” Fauci said during the briefing. 

“In the United States, we are getting accumulation of data. Those spikes in cases is out of proportion to the increase in hospitalization. So if one looks at 14 day averages, the data as of last night indicate a plus 126 percent increase in cases and an 11 percent increase in hospitalizations.”

Fauci then said that hospitalizations and deaths are “lagging indicators.”

“However, the pattern and disparity between cases and hospitalizations strongly suggest that there would be a lower hospitalization-to-case ratio when the situation becomes more clear,” he said. 

Today, as Leah covered, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the Omicron variant makes up 22.5 percent of new cases in the week ending in Dec. 18. That figure increased to 58.6 percent of cases in the week ending in Dec. 25.

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“In conclusion, the data are encouraging, but still, in many respects, preliminary. Yet they are getting stronger and stronger as additional data are accumulated. And it is still unclear how these data will translate to other demographically diverse populations in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world,” Fauci said. “But having said this, all indications point to a lesser severity of Omicron versus Delta. It is difficult to determine what degree of lesser severity is due to preexisting immunity.”

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